An illuminating discussion of the musical, literary, aesthetic, and theological aspects of Bach's early cantatas. The cantatas of J. S. Bach are among the best known and most frequently performed musical works of the Baroque period. But Bach's world is no longer our world, so when we hear and perform the cantatas, questions arise that are difficult to answer because we are experiencing the works outside their historical context. Such questions concern the role of the cantatas in Bach's compositional development, musical models for the works, and performance practice during the composer's lifetime. In The World of the Bach Cantatas, leading Bach scholars place the works in their historical and biographical context, guiding us through their literary, musical, aesthetic, and theological features. The book covers the sacred cantatas Bach wrote during the first twenty-eight years of his life, before his move to Leipzig in 1723. Designed as an accompaniment to Ton Koopman's complete set of cantatas now being recorded on the Erato label.